Drinking out of social obligation
Sometimes it seems like there is more to lose than gain when you want to quit drinking. Its true that there is a lot of social obligation surrounding alcohol. A few things Ive read and heard:
What about New Years, Birthdays, Vacations?
The upcoming work convention?
What about my friends? WHO WILL THEY DRINK WITH?
These are all valid points. There’s probably a societal reason, if not an emotional one for why you drink. Maybe you wouldn’t drink so much if you did not work in a restaurant or bar, or if you weren’t in marketing, or if you weren’t always in a place where drinking was the one of the top reasons for being there.
Its weird how acceptable binge drinking can be. Many Universities regularly sponsor events where they know that students engage in risky behaviour surrounding alcohol, and then shake their fingers when someone dies of alcohol poisoning. It’s easy for people to look the other way until someone gets hurt.
If you’re like many of us who drank because they felt pressure to participate in the culture of alcohol, then you are essentially KILLING YOURSELF TO LIVE.
Don’t fear the reaper
I read a lot about how folks who’ve decided to quit drinking are worried about their bosses finding out next time they are doing cocktail hour in the office, or out for a company team building event, or even at the company Christmas party. They feel that if they dont drink, they’ll have to admit they are alcoholics or come up with some other excuse to avoid the topic.
The conversations I’ve had to have with people about my alcoholism, people that wouldnt know my birthday if it weren’t written on an official form now know intimate details about my shortcomings. It’s not a great feeling, but it’s one that you need to have.
In all the cases I listed before, the holidays, work conventions, pressure from your friends, all seem like HUGE deals, until they aren’t. What do I mean?
I mean that your idea of your boss’s reaction to your choice to abstain from alcohol probably isn’t going to be as bad as you think. Get it out there, get it on the table (the sooner the better, the more private the better too) and get it over with. Rip it off like a band-aid and you’ll feel the sting for a moment, and then bask in the warmth as the endorphins kick in and you realize the pain wasn’t so bad.
The same goes for friends and vacations. You don’t have to go through gory details with everyone, but usually everyone else is so caught up with their own buzz, they won’t notice you’re not drinking.
That is unless they are.
It could come up that someone in your life is against your decision. You might feel like you no longer fit in at work. A friend might badger you about being weak, or try to convince you that you don’t have a problem. It can be tempting, but look at it this way:
If you and your coworkers were working in an office with a carbon monoxide leak, you’d probably start to suffer. At the worst, you’re going to die, at the best, you’re going to have a constant headache and you won’t be very productive.
Maybe your coworkers are fine, they seem to be getting their work done when they aren’t goofing off, but you know something isn’t right. If you’re a sane person, and if you’re still reading this I’m assuming you are.
If you were working in an office that was literally choking you to death, little bit by little bit, you would quit that job, or at the very least make your boss open you up a window!
Ok, so that’s kind of a silly metaphor, but hear me out. If you’re serious about quitting booze, you have to consider the harm its doing to you. It’s unlikely you’ve considered quitting unless you’ve had issues in the past.
So what’s next?
The harm alcohol causes you won’t get better as you get older. You’re not going to turn 30 or 40 or 50 and think “Well, I better get my shit together and have everything fall into place”.
You’re going to have to make some difficult decisions. It’s not always fun, its rarely easy, but if you want to make progress, it’s what you’re going to have to do.